Become A Kansas Foster Parent

In Kansas, there are more than 7,600 children placed into out of home care.  There are approximately 2,000 foster homes in Kansas.  This disparity means that children from your community are being placed outside of their home community, or in shelters.

Children who are placed outside their home community in one day lose their parents, family, school friends, teachers, coaches, and sense of connection to their community.  They frequently miss school so they can have visits, or they don’t see family because they need to be in school.  This sense of loss is compounded when they cannot be placed with their brothers and sisters due to no one having enough room.

The Need For Foster Parents

Foster parents are needed to take children of all ages.  The average age of a child needing placed in Kansas is 9.3 years old.

  • 4% are less than 1 year
  • 30% are 1 to 5
  • 20% are 6 to 10
  • 24% are 11-15
  • 21% are 16-18.  Less than 1% are 19 years and above.
  • 63% of children in out of home care are white, 21% are black, 14% are Hispanic, 1% Native American, and .5% Asian

Foster parents who are willing to take sibling sets of both genders and 6-18 are the biggest need in Kansas traditionally.
In Nebraska, there are more than 4,000 children placed into out of home care.  There are approximately 3,000 foster homes in Nebraska.  This disparity means that children from your community are being placed outside of their home community, or in shelters.

Children who are placed outside their home community in one day lose their parents, family, school friends, teachers, coaches, and sense of connection to their community.  They frequently miss school so they can have visits, or they don’t see family because they need to be in school.  This sense of loss is compounded when they cannot be placed with their brothers and sisters due to no one having enough room.

Foster parents are needed to take children of all ages.  The average age of a child needing placed in Nebraska is 9.3 years old.

  • 31.5% are 0 to 4
  • 24.3%% are 5 to 9
  • 24.7% are 10-14
  • 23.5% are 15-18
  • 54.9% of children in out of home care are white, 18.4% are black, 9.7% are Hispanic, 5.9% American Indian/Alaskan Native, 10.4% are biracial, and .7% Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander

Foster parents who are willing to take sibling sets of both genders and 6-18 are the biggest need in Nebraska traditionally.

An important role for foster care parents is to work with (a concept known as “bridging”) the child’s birth family towards the goal of reunification, and if that goal fails, to commit to raise/parenting the child.

The foster parent helps children to maintain permanent connections with their birth family, while acting as a mentor for that family.  Foster care is a service provided to the child’s entire family.  Foster families come from the same community as the child, are willing to accept and agree to visitation and other types of contact with siblings, relatives, and other important people in the child’s life.

Bridging with the family helps children to achieve permanence more quickly while enabling them to maintain connections with those who are important in their lives.  This ability to maintain connections, and achieve permanence more quickly reduces the level of trauma children in out of home care experience.

As a foster family, you may be asked to:

  1. Provide temporary care, love, and nurturance to children while serving as a mentor to their parent. This could include actively helping the parent improve on their parenting abilities.  The foster parent assists in helping the children transition home, to a legal guardianship, or adoption by another family, while maintaining the children’s connections to their kin, culture and community.
  2. Serve as the legal guardian for children while maintaining the children’s connection to kin, culture, and community.
  3. Adopt the children while maintaining the children’s connection to kin, culture and community.

Foster Parents Contact with the Birth Family

TFI will determine through assessment what level of contact the child should have with the birth family.  Every effort is made to ensure that contact between the child’s birth family and the child and foster parents is safe and positive.   When possible, foster parents are encouraged to supervise visitation with the children, assist with transportation around visitation, and model appropriate behavior for the birth parents.  This may mean allowing the child to use the phone to talk to their parent, while the foster parent listens in, or spending time with the child and their parents at a local park.  When appropriate, some foster parents have allowed the parents to come into their home, and help them with bedtime routines.  Foster parents do have input into what level of contact they are comfortable with, and are encouraged to share any concerns they have regarding this contact with their TFI worker.

Requirements to be a Traditional foster parent in Kansas & Nebraska

  • must have the ability to love, understand, care for and accept a child to whom they did not give birth
  • must be at least 21 years of age
  • may be married, single, legally separated, divorced, or domestic partnership
  • must be in good physical and mental health to provide for the needs of the child
  • must  have sufficient income to meet current expenses
  • must be able to provide sufficient beds and bedrooms for  additional children
  • must submit KBI and CANIS checks
  • Applicants and each household member, 18 years of age or older, submits fingerprints for a state and national criminal history records search
  • must ensure that no household member has a prior conviction of any sexual offense
  • must have a working vehicle and a telephone (this can be a cell phone)
  • must be a legal resident
  • must attend 30 hours of Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting or 21 hours of Deciding Together training

Types of Foster Parents

There are a number of different “types” of foster parents in Kansas & Nebraska. This includes:

Family Foster Care, also referred to as Satellite care, is the basic level of care a child needs. Generally, children requiring this level of care have behavioral and physical needs considered typical of most children.  Children and youth in Family Foster Care may need additional emotional support, counseling, or special education.

Specialized foster care is provided to children who have some emotional and physical needs.  The needs of children requiring specialized care can include but is not limited to special education services, need for community-based mental health services, and incidents of serious or continuous adjustment.   Services to specialized foster homes are monitored through in-person visitation with the child and family in the home.  Foster Care Workers will provide twice monthly in-home visits.  If the placement is stable after 180 days, the Foster Care Worker will see the child once monthly.

Treatment Foster Care is provided to children who require a higher level of care to meet safety and well-being needs.  They will often have social, emotional, behavioral and/or educational needs beyond that of lower levels of care.  The number and frequency of worker-child and worker- foster parent visits are increased to a minimum of two visits per month with weekly phone contacts in between visits.

Intensive Treatment Foster Care is a behavior management service for children placed in foster care to address mental health, behavioral health, and/or substance abuse treatment needs on an individualized, child-specific basis.  The intent is to improve the mental health status, emotional, and social adjustment of children who require medically necessary therapy services or out-of-home Intensive Treatment placement.

Adoptive Foster parents work only with children whose goal is adoption with the purpose of adopting the children placed into their home.

Kinship Foster parents have a relationship already established with a child or sibling group of children in DCF custody.  They become approved for that specific child/children.  Kinship parents who are willing to care for additional children may become licensed as Traditional Foster Parents.

(Nebraska Only) Essential Foster Care is the basic level of care a child needs. Generally, children requiring this level of care have behavioral and physical needs considered typical of most children.  Children and youth in Family Foster Care may need additional emotional support, counseling, or special education.

(Nebraska Only) Enhanced foster care is provided to children who have some emotional and physical needs.  The needs for children requiring enhanced care can include but is not limited to special education services, need for community-based mental health services, and incidents of serious or continuous adjustment. Services to enhanced foster homes are monitored through in-person visitation with the child and family in the home.  Foster Care Workers will provide visits to the home tailored to the child and family needs.

Intensive Foster Care is a behavior management service for children placed in foster care to address mental health, behavioral health, and/or substance abuse treatment needs on an individualized, child-specific basis.  The intent is to improve the mental health status, emotional, and social adjustment of children who require therapy services or out-of-home Intensive placement.